South-Central Minnesota junior high and high school students learned more about the dangers of distracted driving Thursday through AT&T’s “It Can Wait” virtual reality experience.

Lake Crystal Welcome Memorial sophomore Ben Johnson.

Director of External Affairs with AT&T Minnesota Valerie Bruggeman said they were one of the first telecom companies to offer a program to try to combat texting behind the wheel and other forms of distracted driving and it now includes a sort of first-hand look at what can happen. That includes a, “New simulator that we have that really shows a lot of different scenarios of distracted driving and the consequences that can occur,” she explained,

Lake Crystal Police Officer Elijah Blakeslee took a turn in the simulator and said, “A lot of times we see the legal side of things, working for the police department. This is more focused on the human side of it. Injury and death sometimes can occur if you’re texting and driving so it’s good for the kids to see that side of things, too.”

Lake Crystal Welcome Memorial sophomore Ben Johnson said it was an educational but emotional experience that, “Taught me to clearly not get distracted on my phone. It taught me some sad stories about some people that have experienced this with a loved one or just themselves.”

Research conducted by AT&T shows that 81 percent of people admit to texting while driving, and 64 percent say they take and watch videos while behind the wheel.